From CEOs of major international companies to heads of state, women have taken leadership to dramatic new heights in recent years. However according to a 2016 Forbes report, wordwide “the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24 percent.”
With less than one-fourth of women in leadership roles globally, cultivating future women leaders to bridge that gap is pivotal. A new Georgia College program aims to do that through a one-of-a-kind experience for sorority women.
All seven Panhellenic organizations voted to take part in the Sorority Living and Learning Community, which officially launches with the fall 2017 new members. The program will begin July 2018.
The Sorority Living and Learning Community allows second-year Panhellenic members to live together in apartment-style university residence halls while also completing a leadership certificate program.
"Many campuses have partnered with sororities for women’s housing. Similarly, campuses have built living-learning communities around various disciplines. To our knowledge, Georgia College is the first to intentionally build a living-learning community for sorority women dedicated to women’s leadership development and empowerment,” said Tiffany Bayne, assistant director of the fraternity and sorority life.
The idea was born out of the president’s challenge to provide unique leadership development opportunities for students. It also addresses a need within the Greek community.
With more than 1,300 women members of Panhellenic organizations on campus, Georgia College chapters are in many cases some of the largest in the state—even bigger than institutions with 20,000 to 30,000 students.
“As our sororities have grown in size, developing intimate and meaningful relationships has become a challenge. I am excited to see the sisterhoods of our organizations strengthen through this program,” said Bayne. “Ultimately, I know this program will help the women on our campus realize their abilities as leaders. The impacts of preparing them for a passion-driven life will surely last for decades.”
Championed by the student-led Panhellenic Council—representatives elected from campus chapters— these students understand the benefits for participants on all levels.
“I am so thankful for the leadership and personal growth experience this living learning community will provide our sophomore class,” Jordan Thomas, Panhellenic president. “Not only will this community help the students become close with their sisters, it will also give them a convenient space to access all sorority functions and provide then with opportunities to get involved with their sorority and at Georgia College.”
Thomas and Georgia College Provost Dr. Kelli Brown signed a Memorandum of Understanding in early May 2017 for the three-year pilot program.
“My hope for this living and learning community is that when they leave here, they become leaders in their communities, within their schools, their workplace, nonprofit agencies, government agencies or wherever they work,” said Dr. Kelli Brown, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This provides them that extra leadership experience, so that when they leave here, they are the next generation of leaders within the state and throughout the United States.”
The valued added is not limited to their few years in college. The experience will bring benefits throughout their lifetime.
“It’s important the emphasis on leadership. This will give these women a leg-up because that’s one thing employers look for,” said Alyssa Gann, Panhellenic delegate for Kappa Delta.
“I’m excited for this opportunity for our future members. This leadership program will have an impact while they’re in college and after college,” said Rilee Harris president of Delta Gamma. “They can use this on their resume that they went through a leadership training program.”
The university is currently in the process of hiring the program director. Peer mentors from each organization will assist the director.
More information on the program is available here.
If other sororities on campus are interested in participating in the program, contact email@example.com.
Fall 2017 recruitment takes place Aug. 12-15. For details and to register, visit http://www.gcsu.edu/fsl/panhellenic.